Joanna Trollope - Sense and Sensibility (4 stars)

The first Austen Project novel brings the Dashwood girls comfortably into the 21st century

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Joanna Trollope - Sense and Sensibility

(HarperCollins)

Pairing classic and contemporary, the first instalment of the Austen Project sees Joanna Trollope bring the Dashwood girls into the 21st century, guitar playing and Facebook stalking to boot.

Staying true to the classic plot, Trollope mixes her natural style of romance with the girls' convoluted love lives and subtle reminders of their surroundings. Far from being a carbon copy doused with technology and slang, there are many astute observations about the original characters, succinctly made. Secondary names are given more personality, where Bill Brandon, for one, seems far more appealing centuries down the line. The simple additions show not only how well Trollope knows the plot, but the book itself.

With a satirical wit, Belle pointedly notes, 'You're like those nineteenth-century novels where marriage is the only career option for a middle class girl.' These fleeting tongue-in-cheek targets show the book's evolution to today's society.

This retelling does take around 80 pages to start feeling really relevant, but ultimately retains that original spark. It's modern without throwing iPads from the pages, and brings Austen comfortably into the 21st century.

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